BTCEB Blog No 26 Let’s Burn one

Charlie’s Green Machine 1982

This weekend I was reminded of my slovenly, nay, negligent bicycle maintenance schedule. I thought I was on top of things but apparently I wasn’t. For one thing I firmly believe that you should change out your bike’s chain on a regular basis and, depending on the conditions and frequency of use that can be upwards to replacing your chain three times a year.

Now, that may seem somewhat excessive but chains are in expensive in comparison to a full compliment of chainrings and an upper end cassette.

There are many methods and tools that are available http://www.mountain-bike-buzz.com/mountain-bike-chain.html http://www.rohloff.de/en/products/caliber_2/index.html but if you are still confused please consult a trusted bike shop.

I was supposed to meet a couple of buddies for a ride down in Santa Cruz this weekend and my chain was getting a bit long in the tooth.  So I figured it was time to lie my current chain to rest and install a new one.

What I didn’t account for was a favored chain ring that had become notched by use. “Snort. How can it be used? It’s only been on the bike for three years and I swap out my chain on a regular basis. Sir, I cry foul”.

Well, after numerous hours of being subjected to stress, contamination, crashes, mistimed shifts, more stress, stuff just wears out.

Now that I’m faced with the inevitable I can’t help but think should I replace my drive train with self same chain rings and cassette or should I modify my setup and adopt one of the numerous “alternative “ drive train setups.

Obviously the multi chain ring set up has been around for quite some time now but if you spend enough time looking at archival mountain bike photos there are examples of single speeds, single chain ring setups with wide range freewheels http://www.cunninghambikes.com/bicycles/12.html and even just double chainring setups. Each has their advantages and disadvantages but what I find compelling about some of the newer iterations of the single chainring and double chainring setups is their simplicity and improved log and rock clearance.  Right now my large chainring largely serves as a bash guard and I seldom move my chain into it save for increasing my derailleur’s spring tension for downhill sections – even if I immediately switch it again to the mid ring as things start to go up hill again.

I’m attached to the triple idea but it’s more out of nostalgia rather than for any practical purposes. Both Shimano and Sram are going to be launching high-end double mountain cranksets with ten-speed cassettes. Tom Ritchey had been a pioneer in alternative mountain bike drivetrain setups first with his own 2×9 in 1996 and later with a 2×10 in 1999  http://www.retrobike.co.uk/?p=100 . Granted, Ritchey’s setups were geared towards ultra fit racing studs but it goes to show how ahead of the curve he was.

That does it  for the history lesson… I’ve decided to ditch my large chain ring. It’s not that I don’t like pushing the outside limit of my skills but for technical trail riding it’s about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

I’m looking forward to lessening my impact on the trails because let’s face it, a large chainring scar on a tree stump is pretty ugly.

So that’s why I’m burning my large chain ring.

Adam H

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